Pediatric intracranial gunshot wounds: The Memphis experience

Michael DeCuypere, Michael S. Muhlbauer, Frederick A. Boop, Paul Klimo*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Objective Penetrating brain injury in civilians is much less common than blunt brain injury but is more severe overall. Gunshot wounds (GSWs) cause high morbidity and mortality related to penetrating brain injury; however, there are few reports on the management and outcome of intracranial GSWs in children. The goals of this study were to identify clinical and radiological factors predictive for death in children and to externally validate a recently proposed pediatric prognostic scale. Methods The authors conducted a retrospective review of penetrating, isolated GSWs sustained in children whose ages ranged from birth to 18 years and who were treated at 2 major metropolitan Level 1 trauma centers from 1996 through 2013. Several standard clinical, laboratory, and radiological factors were analyzed for their ability to predict death in these patients. The authors then applied the St. Louis Scale for Pediatric Gunshot Wounds to the Head, a scoring algorithm that was designed to provide rapid prognostic information for emergency management decisions. The scale's sensitivity, specificity, and positive and negative predictability were determined, with death as the primary outcome. Results Seventy-one children (57 male, 14 female) had a mean age of 14 years (range 19 months to 18 years). Overall mortality among these children was 47.9%, with 81% of survivors attaining a favorable clinical outcome (Glasgow Outcome Scale score ≥ 4). A number of predictors of mortality were identified (all p < 0.05): 1) bilateral fixed pupils; 2) deep nuclear injury; 3) transventricular projectile trajectory; 4) bihemispheric injury; 5) injury to ≥ 3 lobes; 6) systolic blood pressure < 100 mm Hg; 7) anemia (hematocrit < 30%); 8) Glasgow Coma Scale score ≤ 5; and 9) a blood base deficit < -5 mEq/L. Patient age, when converted to a categorical variable (0-9 or 10-18 years), was not predictive. Based on data from the 71 patients in this study, the positive predictive value of the St. Louis scale in predicting death (score ≥ 5) was 78%. Conclusions This series of pediatric cranial GSWs underscores the importance of the initial clinical exam and CT studies along with adequate resuscitation to make the appropriate management decision(s). Based on our population, the St. Louis Scale seems to be more useful as a predictor of who will survive than who will succumb to their injury.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)595-601
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Pediatric intracranial gunshot wound
  • Pediatric management
  • Survival
  • Trauma
  • Traumatic brain injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Clinical Neurology


Dive into the research topics of 'Pediatric intracranial gunshot wounds: The Memphis experience'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this